December 27, 2003

Farm Life

So, I've got an obsession involving a chicken. And a sheep. And a pregnant cow.

Every day, I am compelled to gather the eggs, pet my sheep and feed my knocked-up cow.

My name is Jason and I am a Harvest Moon addict. Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town for the Game Boy Advance, to be specific.

One of the key aspects that makes this farming sim so consuming is that each day you only have a certain amount of time and strength to make things happen for your pixelated livestock. You've got to make your animal friends happy (so that they'll produce higher quality eggs, wool and milk) while simultaneously working on your 5 Year Plan for Agrarian Life Fulfillment.

Sitting atop the Harvest Moon pyramid of needs, above even Win the Sumo Chicken Contest or Teach Your Dog to Catch a Frisbee, lies Getting Hitched. And there are many fine ladies from which to choose.

Initially I was courting Popuri, the chicken farmer's daughter, because, not to be crass, she seemed kinda easy. All she ever wanted was flowers and those were easy to come by.

But then she showed up at my house looking for treats on Halloween and I was all "First off, this is a holiday for kids and I'm not looking for no child bride. And second, we are so not in the point in our relationship where you can just show up at my house, when I'm trying to tend to my crop of eggplants, and demand that I provide you with snacks."

So now I've got my eye on the tomboy-ish barmaid. I hear she likes eggs.


Artist Statement:

"My artwork bears witness to the journey of the puzzle to the journey."

with helpful decoder ring.

December 22, 2003

Tetris Angst

Boingboing linked to this site featuring a CD of Christmas songs, played entirely with samples from 8-bit video games.

But I think the real magnum opus here is Nullsleep's Depeche Mode Megamix.

Enjoy the Silence never sounded so good as when played in the style of the Rygar theme music.

Best DVD feature ever

Finding Nemo does all things I've come to expect from a great Pixar flick: funny characters with entertaining celebrity voices, lots of meta-pop culture jokes, a bunch of anthropomorphic/"Sharks don't really have 12 step programs" gags. Nemo is the most impressive of their stable because it also looks pretty as all get out. The design philosophy is all about density of information - packing in a crazy number of plants and animals into every under-seascape. There's so much stuff going on that the background is frequently more compelling, from a dramatic standpoint, than the narrative.

Which is why it's super-hot that they built in a DVD feature that allows you to soak in the digital coolness. Most DVDs boast a "interactive animated menu" feature - which is basically one step beyond simply saying "contains movie" - but Finding Nemo repurposes the idea. Each menu of the DVD contains an animated background and a button that allows you to drop out the titles and main soundtrack. So you're left with just the infinite loop of, say, sea anemones gently swaying.

Kick ass!

The End is Nigh

First, the power goes out for a big chunk of San Francisco. And now we've got earthquakes, what with the ground moving and the shaking and such.

This is my second quake ... it was like being on a boat, gently rocking. Afterwards I felt landsick; appreciably dizzy and sort of sick to my stomach.

Not to be excessively naive, but this is what makes earthquakes really interesting and sort of personally terrifying. I have this expectation from the ground that it's not going move and 99.99% of my life that's been a fair assumption. And then it's not true. In a very significant way.

It's as if gravity were to be dimmed down a bit for a few seconds - just a little bit of lightness, like going over the hump on a rollercoaster, but in a way that you could tell was affecting people for miles around, not just you in your rickety car.

It's the inescapable bigness of the thing that's amazing rather than just the thing itself.

December 21, 2003


Jonathan Dee's NYT story on video games with whole pages of entertaining quotes from Atari CEO, Bruno Bonnell ... from which Costik tees off:

Bonnell wants to call games "interactive entertainment": this is a common rhetorical strategy, but it always gets up my nose ... You can see this strategy everywhere: It's gaming, not gambling. It's erotica, not porn. It's speculative fiction, not sci fi. To which the only honest response is: Bullshit.

December 15, 2003


Sutter likes to remind folks that I used to carry around a yo-yo in pocket. Pretty dorky.

But now I've upgraded to Astrojax - the Swiss yo-yo of the future. And it's only a matter of time until the ladies go crazy for my advanced three body technique.

There's some hot stuff on the Astrojax website. Physics equations to explain how the whole thing works. And ridiculous video of Swiss kids with dreadlocks working the astro magic.

December 12, 2003


The Believer is based loosely on the true story of a Jewish neo-Nazi. In the film, Danny Balint is an incredibly articulate skinhead whose arguments in favor of anti-semitism and murdering Jews are based in his childhood yeshiva studies. And also, he gets to bone Summer Phoenix.

There's a pivotal scene where he and his bald droogs vandalize a synagogue - spray painting swastikas, tearing up prayer books, peein' on stuff ... the usual. But Danny can't go through with descrecating a torah. Unsurprisingly, the gentile neo-nazis aren't exactly won over by being told about the special sacredness of the torah and Danny ends up taking home the torn up torah in order to repair it. Which, you know, is like a symbol for his return to judaism.

This is a great movie, what with the self-struggle and the contradtions and the unsympathetic hero. Good.

So, of course, it's gonna be a rabbi at the Simon Wiesenthal Center who stops it from seeing wide distribution.

The scene I described is the one that gave him pause because it's "a primer for anti-semitism." Or, you know, a scene about challenging anti-semitism ... depending on which movie you saw.

Also, it's interesting to note that the director (who was a non-practicing Jew that became re-enjewed because of making this movie) went to all sorts of lengths to mitigate his guilt around showing the torah being torn. For example, they found a section of the torah that didn't include the name of God and offset that to make a whole scroll's worth.

December 05, 2003


My brother informs me that the lady who got trampled at Wal-Mart not only has long history of personal injury claims, but, in fact, has 16 such claims against Wal-Mart alone.

It's nice to see that, in America, you pick yourself up by your bootstraps and go from being the victim of greed to the perpetrator thereof.

Next: We find out that there's security video footage of her gettin' busy with a stock boy in the Wal-Mart bathroom ... only to discover a week later that she leaked the video to the media to get a better deal for her Movie of the Week rights.